Medicine HoleDepending on the direction a visitor faces from the mountain that houses Medicine Hole, they will see farmland, rugged terrain or prairies.
By: Jennifer McBride, The Dickinson Press
Depending on the direction a visitor faces from the mountain that houses Medicine Hole, they will see farmland, rugged terrain or prairies. They will also view an area that thousands of Native American once occupied.
A mile trail leads hikers to the “hole” or cave that punctures the mountain — an area that provides much opportunity to see wildlife and scenic vistas and as American lore says, served as an escape for many Native Americans during a fierce battle in July of 1864.
For others it is all of this and more.
“For our people, it’s a place where individuals from our tribe fasted to get our medicine and it’s considered a sacred site,” said Alyce Spotted Bear, vice president of Native American studies at Fort Berthold Community College in New Town.
The Medicine Hole property is in private hands and the owners have been very generous to allow people to hike to that spot, State Historical Society of North Dakota Historic Sites Manager Diane Rogness said.
A small sign off of Highway 22 near Killdeer leads the way to the mountain and an unpaved parking area with another wooden sign points to the trailhead.
Killdeer Mountains: Called Tachawakute, “the place where we kill deer” by Native Americans, rise above the plains north of Killdeer.
According to more legend, the hole is the opening from which the first buffalo emerged onto the plains.
“It’s actually very moving when you get up there, you can see all over —— the landscape is extraordinary and like for me, I just had a feeling of reverence because I was told it was sacred and it was a place where our people went to fast and pray,” Spotted Bear said.
State Historical Society Museum Division Director Chris Johnson will lead a Killdeer Mountain History Hike on Saturday, July 31, to Medicine Hole. Visitors can meet at the trailhead at 9 a.m. or at Runnings Farm & Fleet to carpool at 8 a.m. or at the Killdeer pool parking lot at 8:45 a.m. The hike is expected to end at about noon.
Spotted Bear reminds those who visit the site to be respectful.
“We wouldn’t go into someone’s church and desecrate it and they should have the same reverence for the Medicine Hole,” she said.